What is testosterone and why increase it?
Testosterone is the main male sex hormone. Its level ranges from 300 to 1,000 ng/dl and can decrease for a number of reasons: age, excess weight, various diseases. Here are a few indirect signs that suggest a lack of testosterone:
The above symptoms are not necessarily associated with testosterone levels but may indicate a deficiency. To accurately know the level of the hormone, you need to take tests and, if it is really reduced, consult a doctor for treatment.
At the same time, if the hormone level is within the normal range, you can increase testosterone by natural methods and get many benefits from it: lose weight, build muscle, improve athletic performance and sexual function.
What exactly increases testosterone?
In medicine and sports, injections and gels are used to increase testosterone levels.
However, when it comes to hormones, the principle “the more the better” does not work. If your testosterone level is within the normal range, an excessive amount of the hormone can increase your risk of heart disease and negatively affect your bone health. Therefore, it is better to leave supplements with testosterone as a last resort. When he comes, the doctor will say.
Fortunately, there are proven and safe ways to increase testosterone production without any injections: turn on physical activity, establish sleep and nutrition, and get rid of stress.
You can try one way, but it is better to use them in combination. Unlike hormone injections, they will not lead to an excessive increase in testosterone levels and will only bring benefits.
How to change life to increase testosterone?
Get enough sleep
Most of the daily testosterone is synthesized in a dream. With chronic lack of sleep, the body simply does not have time to produce testosterone.
It is enough to sleep less than 5 hours a day for one week, and testosterone levels will decrease by 15%.
Sleep 8 hours, protect yourself from your smartphone, any other sources of blue light, and invigorating drinks in the late evening, take a warm shower before going to bed.
Manage stress and emotions
The reaction to stress largely depends on the personal characteristics of the person, in particular, the level of extraversion, openness to new experiences, and the ability to restrain aggression. It turned out that for those who better control themselves, testosterone increases during stress.
Scientists suggest that this may be due to the functional connections between the amygdala – the structure of the brain responsible for emotions, and the prefrontal cortex, which helps curb feelings and make decisions. The stronger this connection, the better self-control, and more testosterone.
However, this only applies to short-term stress such as anxiety before the exam. Long-term psychological stress, including worries about future events, increases cortisol levels and reduces testosterone.
Unfortunately, not everyone can get rid of stress factors. It remains only to adapt and rebuild your life in such a way as to minimize discomfort. In part, proven stress management techniques will help you: meditation, breathing exercises, and walking.
Refrain from sex and masturbation for a week
Testosterone is directly related to sexual desire, but the frequency of sexual contact and masturbation does not greatly affect its level. However, there is some evidence that testosterone can raise short-term abstinence from one to three weeks.
In one study, testosterone rose sharply by 145.7% on the seventh day of abstinence. True, a further rejection of sex and masturbation did not increase it even more.
It is not known how longer abstinence affects testosterone levels, but scientists suggest that it is negative. Therefore, it makes sense to refrain from sex only for the short-term rise in testosterone, for example, in order to better endure the load in sports.
How to eat to boost testosterone?
Do not cut calories unnecessarily.
Calorie-deficient diets negatively affect testosterone levels, but if you have a lot of excess weight, this mode can be useful. In obese young men, testosterone is reduced by 50-60% compared with people of normal weight, and losing weight helps to increase the level of this hormone.
If your body mass index (BMI) is within normal limits, consume as many calories as you spend.
Eat enough fat
Low-fat diets – 15–25% of total calories from fats — lower testosterone levels. The fact is that this hormone is made from cholesterol, and when the intake of fats from food is limited, the body does not have enough raw materials to create androgens.
However, this does not mean that you only need to consume foods charged with cholesterol. Yes, saturated fats from meat, butter, and dairy products increase testosterone levels, but vegetable fats do just as well, and sometimes even better.
In one study, men took 25 g of butter for two weeks and then changed it to 25 ml of olive or argan oil rich in omega-9-unsaturated fatty acids. After three weeks, participants’ testosterone levels increased by 17.4% (olive) and 19.9% (argan).
But trans fats from purchased sweets and fast food, on the contrary, reduce testosterone. In men who consume a lot of trans fats, hormone levels are reduced by 15%. Therefore, WHO recommends consuming 30% of the daily calorie intake from unsaturated fats and only 10% from saturated fats. Focus on these norms and choose the right foods to get not only fats but also the necessary trace elements.
Choose the right products
In addition to fats, magnesium and vitamin D are needed to produce testosterone. Below is a list of products that contain these substances to one degree or another:
- Almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, pistachios, peanuts – a lot of healthy fats, rich in magnesium, zinc.
- Fatty fish – a useful source of fat, rich in magnesium, vitamin D.
- Seafood is a source of zinc.
- Avocado – will provide healthy fats and magnesium.
- Beans, lentils – are rich in magnesium and zinc.
- Eggs – contain fats, cholesterol, zinc, and vitamin D.
- Beef, pork – a source of saturated fat and zinc.
- Milk, butter, cheese – vitamin D, zinc, saturated fats.
- Buckwheat, oatmeal – are rich in magnesium and zinc.
- Pumpkin and flax seeds are a source of magnesium and zinc and fats.
- Bananas are rich in magnesium.
- Olive oil – contains unsaturated fats, helps increase cholesterol absorption.
- Dark chocolate is a source of magnesium and zinc, rich in fats.
- Spinach is a source of magnesium.
It is also necessary to exclude alcohol: it impairs the functioning of the reproductive system, damages cells, and reduces the production of testosterone.
How to train to increase testosterone?
Almost any physical activity has a positive effect on the level of testosterone, but if you want the maximum increase, choose certain types of exercises.
Try High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
This is a training method in which short intervals of work at maximum or submaximal intensity alternate with periods of rest or restorative activity. Moreover, HIIT can be both with free weights, both in CrossFit, and with cyclic types of cardio – jogging, cycling, rowing.
Unlike long exhausting runs that lower testosterone, HIIT sessions will spend much less time, pump your heart and raise the level of male sex hormone.
Do strength training.
This is the most effective and proven way to increase testosterone. To get the most out of power loads, use the following rules.
- Choose basic multi-joint exercises. Squats with a barbell, deadlift, bench press while standing and standing, deadlift barbell pulls and others, involving several joints and muscle groups at the same time, most effectively build muscle and raise testosterone well.
- Increase training. The greater the number of sets and reps, as well as the working weight, the stronger the level of testosterone rises.
- Do not do each approach to muscle failure. Workouts with a margin of several repetitions increase testosterone levels after classes more than work in failure.
- Adjust volume and weight to avoid overtraining. Yes, the amount of training increases testosterone, but if your body does not have time to cope with stress, overtraining may occur. In this state, the pulse rises at rest, indicators decrease, immunity sets in, you constantly feel tired, have trouble sleeping, testosterone levels decrease and sexual function decreases. In order not to catch fray, increase the load gradually and do not forget about recovery.
What supplements can I take to boost testosterone?
Most supplements to increase testosterone is either not well understood or have conflicting conclusions: in one experiment they give a good effect, in the other – none at all. We give a list of supplements with which at least some positive results have been associated.
Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is a fat-soluble vitamin that our body synthesizes using UV rays or gets as part of the food. In regions with a lack of sunlight, people tend to lack it.
One study found that taking vitamin D3 daily for a year significantly increased total and free testosterone levels. Also, do not forget to supplement the diet with foods rich in this vitamin.
In one study, 5 g supplements per day for three months increased testosterone levels by 10–22% in men with infertility. In another work, taking 300 mg of ashwagandha extract twice a day for 8 weeks raised testosterone levels by as much as 80%, helped to build more muscle and lose 2% more fat than with strength training without any additives.
A recent qualitative study also showed a good effect from taking ashwagandha extract. The numbers there are much more modest: testosterone increased by 14.7% in 8 weeks. This can be explained by the age of the participants: in the first study, the supplement was taken by men 18–50 years old, in the second, 40–70 years old, and even overweight.
In one study, taking D-aspartate sodium increased participants’ testosterone levels, in another, it did not give any results in addition to strength training. Scientists suggest that D-aspartic acid may help those who have low testosterone but do not raise it above normal levels.
This is a herbal supplement – capsule extract. In one study, three months of supplementation increased testosterone levels by 16% in men with erectile dysfunction. At the same time, a study of young elite athletes and healthy people with normal testosterone levels showed no effect from a herbal supplement.
Another popular herbal supplement for raising testosterone. It is thought to help reduce the number of enzymes that convert testosterone to estrogen. In one study, a group of men taking 500 mg supplements per day in addition to strength training increased their total and free testosterone more than those who simply did.
Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is a hormone that plays a role in increasing testosterone levels and controlling estrogen levels. Several studies have found that 50–100 mg of DHEA per day can increase testosterone levels by up to 20% compared to placebo; others have not found an effect.
Zinc plays an important role in the production of testosterone in the body. Therefore, it makes sense to take the supplement if you do not consume enough of this metal with food or spend long tedious workouts, losing the trace element with sweat. If zinc is enough, the supplement is unlikely to have an effect on testosterone levels.
The same story as with zinc – depends on whether you have a lack of this trace element. If you are deficient in magnesium, supplements may increase. testosterone level. If there is no shortage, and the level of testosterone is normal, taking the supplement will not give any benefits.
Testosterone Level Checklist:
- Lose weight.
- If there is no excess weight, eliminate a calorie deficit.
- Include more fat in your diet.
- Choose foods rich in vitamin D, zinc, and magnesium.
- Give up alcohol.
- Engage in strength and/or high-intensity interval training.
- Eliminate long exhausting cardio.
- Try vitamin D and ashwagandha extract.
- In the case of long workouts with heavy sweating, try zinc and magnesium supplements.
- Sleep at least 8 hours a day.
- Minimize stress factors and master calming techniques.
- For a short-term rise in testosterone, refrain from sex and masturbation for a week.